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How Much Electricity Does it Take to Charge a Tesla?

How Much Electricity Does it Take to Charge a Tesla?

There’s an ongoing debate on whether electric vehicles REALLY save you money. With higher upfront costs, it’s more likely that a potential EV buyer will stick to his gas powered vehicle. Afterall, there’s not enough information about charging costs out there. Unlike gassing up at a petrol station where it’s easy to estimate prices, the electricity costs of charging EVs depend on a few factors.


Tesla remains the most popular choice for electric vehicle buyers. If you’re one of the many considering the switch, you’re probably asking about this too: how much electricity is needed to charge a Tesla?

Well, the cost of charging a Tesla will depend on how you use it and what Tesla model you intend to buy.

In this article, we’ll show you the costs of charging your Tesla battery compared to what you usually pay to fill up your gas powered car.

Introduction to EV charging

There are three levels of charging an EV: Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging.

Level 1 AC charging

Level 1 is the simplest and slowest. It uses your standard 120-volt wall outlet at home, so you can only get between 3-6 miles of range per hour. This could be enough for routine battery top-ups, but a full charge can take days.

Level 2 AC charging

Level 2 uses the same 220V plug as that of large home appliances. This is the popular choice for home charging because it can give you up to 50 miles of range per hour. It can possibly fully charge your electric vehicle overnight!

Both Level 1 and Level 2 can be used for Tesla charging at home.

DC fast charging

Tesla has a network of proprietary fast chargers called the Tesla Supercharger, which uses a 480-volt direct current technology to give you up to 322 miles of range in just 15 minutes of charging. The set-up is complicated and requires an electrician, so DC chargers like Tesla Superchargers are not typically used for home charging. You'll have to check your nearest charging station for available DC chargers.

Primary factors influencing EV charging

There’s no fixed rate in charging an electric vehicle. The cost will vary depending on several factors. Here are some of the things Tesla owners should consider for maximum EV savings:

State of charge and depth of discharge

Depth if Discharge (DoP) helps you know how much of your EV’s battery capacity can be used and how long it will last. DoP refers to the amount of battery that has been discharged relative to the total electrical energy supply available. It seems complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple to understand. To put it into perspective, discharging 16 kilowatt hours from a 40-kilowatt hour EV battery means the DoP is 40% (16 kWh / 40 kWh).

State of Charge (SoC) is its complete opposite. It refers to the percentage of battery still available for use. Using our example earlier, a 40 kWh EV battery with a 40% DoP has a state of charge of 60%, or 24 kWh.

Understanding electricity consumption

Before we dive deeper into the electrical consumption, let's do a quick review of some terms:

Current, measured in amperes (amps), refers to the flow of electricity in a circuit. The higher the amperage, the more electricity can flow.

Voltage, measured in volts (v), refers to the pressure that pushes electricity. The higher the voltage, the higher the pressure, which means faster charging times.

Power measures the rate of energy transfer. It can be derived by multiplying current and voltage. So, when looking at your electricity bill, your monthly consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).

How much does it cost to charge your Tesla

This may come as a surprise to potential Tesla owners, but these cars use a small amount of electricity despite the powerful features.

An average Tesla electric car uses around 34 kWh of electricity per 100 miles. That’s 34,000 kWh per 100,000 miles, or up to 170,000 kWh throughout the car’s lifespan. With a charging efficiency of about 94% and a discharge efficiency of 90%, the electricity used by a Tesla battery is remarkably low, so you won't have to worry about your electric bill ballooning.

Based on the national average cost of electricity, charging your Tesla only costs $13.96. That’s about $0.05 per mile across all models. So, a Tesla Model X costs about $18.30 to fully charge, while a Model S is not too far behind at $18.29. Model 3 is the cheapest to charge at $9.62, and a full charge of a Model Y costs $13.58.

Here's the cost of charge comparison for all Tesla varieties:

Tesla battery capacity

Tesla EVs have some of the highest battery capacities on the market. It is measured using the kWh (kilowatt-hours) unit, while the charge of a battery is measured using the mAh (milliamp hours) unit.

A Tesla battery is made of thousands of individual lithium-ion cells. These cells range from 3400 mAh to 5000 mAh in charge, giving a total storage capacity between 85 kWh to 100 kWh.

Other factors that impact charging

Impact of weather on charging

Studies have shown that temperature can significantly affect the battery efficiency of your Tesla. During the colder months, you’re likely to get less range from your Tesla compared during the summer.

Why? Batteries have an ideal operating temperature where they can most efficiently deliver power. Take your phone for example. Its charge doesn’t last long in cold temperatures, and it automatically shuts down when it starts overheating.

Teslas are equipped with onboard heaters to maintain battery temperature. Don’t worry about losing some range as the energy used to heat up your battery isn’t the same energy used to turn your wheels.

How many kilowatt hours to charge a Tesla?

The capacity of Tesla's batteries ranges from 50 kWh on a standard range Model 3 to 100 kWh on all Model S and Model X variants.

The usable capacity of a Long Range Model 3 is 75 kWh. With a standard 11.5 kW home charger, it will take 6 hours and 31 minutes to go from 0% to 100% using this simple calculation:

Charging Time = Battery Capacity / Charging Wattage = 75 kWh / 11.5 kW = 6.52 Hours

Is charging a Tesla cheaper than gas?

With the current average gas price at $3.28 a gallon, it would cost around $45 to fill up a 12-gallon car tank.

For a car that gets 30 miles of range per gallon, a full tank would give it 360 miles of range.

Driving an average of 1,183 miles per month means having to refuel more than three times a month and spending around $144. In comparison, driving the same range with a Tesla would only cost about $59.15. That's a 40% increase!

Again, these are just based on current national averages and may vary over time.


How much does it cost to charge a Tesla at home?

Based on the national average, charging a Tesla at home only costs $13.96 to charge, or about $0.05 cents per mile. The cost for a full charge will depend on your Tesla model, its battery size, and your charger. Here’s an estimate by model:

Model X - $18.30

Model S - $18.29

Model Y - $13.58

Model 3 - $9.62

How many kWh are needed to charge a Tesla?

The capacity of Tesla electric cars ranges from 50 kWh on a standard range Model 3 to 100 kWh on all Model S and X variants.

How long does a Tesla charge last?

Using this simple calculation:

Charging Time = Battery Capacity / Charging Wattage

With an 11.5 kW home charger, charging a Standard Range Model 3 with a 50-kilowatt hour capacity will take 4 hours and 20 minutes, while models with 100 kWh of capacity will take around 8 hours and 41 minutes.

These speeds will dramatically increase if you use a Supercharger at your local charging station.

How much electricity does it take to charge a Tesla at home?

You don’t have to worry about your power bill at home if you have a Tesla. On average, it only takes $0.05/mile to charge. That’s just about $13.96.

How far can a Tesla go on one charge?

On average, Tesla batteries will last up to 336 miles on a single charge. The lowest range Tesla, the Model 3, lasts 267 miles, while the longest-range model, the Model S, can last up to 405 miles. In a Tweet, Elon Musk said that batteries can last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles throughout their life.

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